[The following letter is reproduced for information purposes only. It is
not intended to diagnose disease or prescribe a particular form of
treatment. If you have any of the problems referred to, you should seek
professional help and an evaluation by a health professional.
It is amazing to think about what was accomplished a century ago with
such simple means.]
Practical Counsel on Home Treatments
by Ellen G. White
(Written March 10, 1897, from "Sunnyside," Cooranbong, N.S.W.,
to "Dear Brother Semmens.")
I have just sent you a telegram. In a letter written to Brother Lacey,
the father of Herbert Lacey, Sister Lacey was describing, I think, the
treatment you were giving Brother Lacey--the ice, etc., used to keep down
I feel that the ice used is a mistake. The light which has been given
me in reference to several critical cases has been represented to me as a
sick child I had in charge, and in every case the directions given were,
Do not apply ice to the head (but cool water); apply hot fomentations (to
the bowels, stomach, and liver). This will quell the fever much sooner
even than cold. The reaction after the cold applications raised the fever,
in the place of killing it.
This direction has been given me again and again. In some cases the ice
applications may be warrantable, but in most cases they are not advisable.
If the invalid has any vitality, the system will send the blood to where
the cold is, and very often the system has no power for this taxation.
Brother Herbert has low vitality. Some cases may endure this other kind of
treatment, but I greatly fear for Brother Lacey, if it is continued. Use
hot water; in nine cases out of ten it will do a more successful work than
the cold ice would do.
I cannot now write out all the cases I have handled under the light
given me of God, but every case has worked favorably. I have given these
directions to physicians of repute, those not of our faith and those of
our faith, and in every case, even in fevers, they have reported success
in treating with hot water in the place of cold water or applications of
My husband and myself were urgently requested to go from Battle Creek
to Allegan, in the case of Dr. Lay's wife, to pray for her, for there was
little hope of her life. We went about 35 miles. No one had been in her
room to see the woman but her husband, Dr. Lay, and the physician in that
place. We inquired the reason of her prostration. They said it was
hemorrhage from the lungs. My husband inquired, "What are you
doing?" Dr. Lay responded, "Putting on cold compresses."
We then told the doctors that they were doing the worst thing for the
woman that they could do. They should keep hot water bags to her feet, and
hot water bags to her lungs and stomach. The cold water or ice water to
the lungs was diverting the blood from limbs and body to meet the cold
application, and another hemorrhage would certainly appear soon.
"Why," the doctors said, "this is sensible; why did we not
consider, and reason from cause to effect?"
The cold was immediately replaced by hot, and she was much more
comfortable. She had been lying [in bed] for three days. They had not
dared to move her for fear of hemorrhage. Her clothing was removed the
next day, and she began to feel natural. Dr. Lay said, "You have, by
your counsel, saved the life of my wife." He was the most grateful
man I ever saw. She lived for about twenty years after that sickness.
There was another woman, greatly respected in Allegan, who was full of
malaria. She came to the sanitarium for treatment. She had been under
treatment two weeks, but received no benefit. One night I dreamed that Dr.
Lay came to me with much perplexity expressed in his countenance. I said,
"What is it, Doctor?" He said, "I am put to my wits' end to
know what to do in the case of Sister G. She does not improve at
all." Said I, "Dr. Lay, what influence would it have on cold
tallow to put it in cold or tepid water?" "None at all," he
said. "I have no more to say," I said; "a word to the wise
The next day Dr. Lay came to our house, and desired an interview with
me. He repeated the words in my dream, and I gave the same answer. I said,
"Give her as hot treatment as she can bear." "Why did I not
think of this myself?" he said. He acted upon the light given, with
We were then living on our farm, 80 miles from Battle Creek. The snow
had been very deep, and the rain had set in, and made the water standing
in the road a river. Brother Wilson, father of the Brother Wilson now in
Tasmania, had been sick, and a telegram was sent for Dr. Lay to come
immediately. His father was in a terrible state of erysipelas. The brother
of father Wilson came to see me early one morning, and presented the case
before me. I said, "I cannot go, Brother Wilson," for Brother
King was receiving treatment at our house. He had been kicked by a horse
and his skull was broken, and the doctor would not trust him in anyone's
hands but my husband's and myself, for he said that there was only one
chance out of a hundred for his life. The crisis had now come, and we
could not leave him.
I said, "Brother Wilson, I had a dream last night. I was taking
care of a sick child. Its head was swollen enormously, and the child was
unconscious. Some were saying, "Put cold water on its head." One
came in and stood by the bed, and said: "This is a critical case.
Cold water is not the right prescription. Take two flannel sheets, wet
them as hot as you can handle them, and wrap him up in the pack, and put a
flannel wet in warm water round his head. Keep this in operation until he
manifests sensibility to heat. Work quickly and thoroughly, for you will
have no time to lose."
"Now," said I to Brother Wilson, "call at your sister's,
get the blankets, and follow directions precisely." He did this, and
when he put on the third application, he began to shrink, for he was
revealing sensibility. Oh, what rejoicing was in that house. The battle
was fought and the victory gained before Dr. Lay arrived.
The second or third night I dreamed of having the care of a child that
was weak and seemed unable to rally. I thought the same physician stood by
the cradle and said, "Have you any wine in the house? Beat up a raw
egg, and give it to the child with grape wine, three times each day. He
will rally." Dr. Lay came the next morning, and said he must return
to the sanitarium the next morning, that the erysipelas was conquered but
that he was extremely weak. "I am perplexed to know what to do."
I told him my dream, and he went immediately and gave him the
strengthening potion. He gained strength rapidly. This occurred when
Willie was about twelve years old.
I might present case after case of a similar character. When I have
taken treatment at the sanitarium, Dr. Kellogg has always told the head
nurses to allow Sister White to prescribe her own treatment. They used to
give me cold (ice) applications to my head, but it was always an injury to
me, and I changed them to warm applications to the spine and head, and to
the eyes hot salt water fomentations, but seldom ever cold. I have had
inflammation to the eyes, but hot applications were used, and with good
I send you at this time pulverized charcoal. Let him drink the water
after it has stood a while to extract the virtue. This should be cold when
used. When used for fomentations over the bowels, the [char]coal should be put
into a bag, sewed up, and dipped in hot water. It will serve several
times. Have two bags; use one and then the other.
I send this to you by Sara. Let her stand by your side and help you
share the responsibility in the most critical period. Herbert Lacey is a
man of value, a man the Lord loves. The enemy must not come in and take
him away. We are praying for you and for him, that you may be guided
aright and that you may have the help of the great Physician.
Sara is not much pleased to go. Make it as pleasant for her as you can.
We shall miss her here, but for a few days I consent for her to go to you.
Counsel together, and Sara will help you. She has tried to vindicate cold
and ice water treatment, but I differ with her. There is not strength in
that frail body now to bear any such heroic treatment. Oh, how my heart
yearns over Herbert Lacey. He is precious in the sight of the Lord, and we
must not fail to do everything in our power for him.
I have given you the light God has given me, and I consider that it is
light. I sent the telegram because I did not then expect that Sara would
go to Sydney. May the Lord bless you as a family, is my prayer.
We will make Herbert's case a special subject of prayer. Tell Brother
Baker to pray for him. You and your wife pray that the Lord will raise him
up to health. In love to you all.--Letter 112a, 1897.
Releases, vol. 20, pp. 278-281)